Games Glory for Black Ferns 7s at Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens

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Games Glory for Black Ferns 7s at Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Gold medalists New Zealand pose during the medal ceremony for the Women's Gold Medal Rugby Sevens Match between Australia and New Zealand on day 11 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Robina Stadium on April 15, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Australian and New Zealand women’s rugby sevens sides played out an epic final at Robina Stadium Sunday. A thrilling win for the Black Ferns 7s, after the extra time win put a ‘golden halo’ over the Kiwi side, at the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens tournament.

It was played out in two euphoric halves of rugby, with action from end-to-end. Both teams were playing at peak level, with the crowd seeming to push the Aussie team back into the match. Level at 12-12, until the Black Ferns 7s women were able to ‘put the final to bed’ after an extended extra time period saw Kelly Brazier score the gold medal winning try.

The sides had progressed as many had presumed, although with effort required to hold back the challenges from the best sides in the Commonwealth – including hosts Australia.

Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens Glory for Black Ferns 7s

Playing an extra six and a half minutes of overtime, the emotion from the New Zealand women was clear to see. A reversal of the sadness shown at Rio de Janiero [when the Australians won]. The smiles and hugs were in joy, at earning the gold that the side had aimed for.

“The crowd was against us, and most of the crowd were against us. I am so proud to win this medal” was the description from captain Sarah Goss.

“I’m so stoked now!”

The New Zealand Sevens women’s captain was delighted to seek a form of revenge over the Australian team; who won the first Olympic title in Rio. It also reinforces the XVs Rugby World Cup win by New Zealand, and cements the Black Ferns 7s 2016/17 HSBC Women’s Sevens Series title.

Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens semi-finals

New Zealand 26 England 5

In an ideal preparation, this first match allowed the Black Ferns 7s to set themselves for knockout sevens mode. With less success on the World Series circuit, the pressure was withstood by the squad. England were not able to retain possession,

They headed to the final knowing that it would take more than sheer skill, to defeat the hosts….and a stadium full of Aussie supporters. [see Gold medal final coverage below].

New Zealand had topped their pool, although with a dose of the ‘wobbles’ early in their third match against Canada. With Michaela Blyde and then Sarah Goss in the bin, Canada seized a slender lead. But once the flying Blyde was returned to the field, she repaid her team mates to begin a run of tries. 24-7 did not depict how difficult a match it was – but it might have been the work-out the Kiwi’s needed.

Australia 33 Canada 7

Canada had tried their best to challenge the Kiwi team, but even after scoring an early try, had nothing in reserve to halt Australia. Emma Tonegato was in blistering form, collecting two tries to outclass the Canadians, and seal their place in the Gold medal final.

The Australians would feel more comfortable with the semi-final result, as they had faltered in their final pool match. Meeting Fiji; who had been tipped by Jovilisi Waqa to exceed expectations, almost caused a boil-over. The Fijiana girls matched the hosts 10-10 and looked to have saved their best for last.

Gladly for the Olympic champs, star player Charlotte Caslick scored to secure their place in the knockout stages. A win described by their coach as ‘ordinary’.

NOTE: The Fiji women should be congratulated for a solid performance – just their pool game loss to England meaning they could not finish second in Pool B.

England collect Bronze Medal

The England team can finish the weekend with smiles, as they defeated Canada 19-24. In a match which had plenty of scoring action, the Abbie Brown led side held up English pride, to hold off a late charge from Canada.

Brilliant win for Black Ferns 7s in Gold Medal final

As Kelly Brazier outsprinted Australia’s Dom du Toit, the screams from New Zealand might have been heard on the Gold Coast. It jubilation, the reaction of Black Ferns 7s supporters echoed through the stadium – to the heartache of Aussie fans.

In reversing the result in Rio, the majority of the women’s team could put the ‘demons to bed’ of that lost gold medal game. They now hold a different gold medal, but one which each will hold to just as dearly.

New Zealand claimed the first-ever Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens win, and they did so after a hard fought match. It was a game of two halves, with the Black Ferns 7s pulling ahead, only to have their 12-0 lead hauled in.

Grabbing one try, and then securing an equalizer through one of their standout players, Ellia Green. Australia seemed to have the roll-on and with time counting down, they looked the more positive side. A game winning save from Niall Williams, just stopped the Aussies from bringing the house down (and could have changed the men’s final outcome too).

Strangely, Cassie Staples kicked the ball out at 12-12, which meant that the referee had no other call then, but to end regulation time.

Extra Time added to Epic Gold Medal final

With the sides near to exhaustion, the restarted match would hang on the first scoring play. That would not be easy, and each side entered opposition territory, only for a mistake or solid defence halting an advance.

With great ball movement and excellent skill to offload in the tackle, New Zealand made one determined effort to escape their own ‘red zone’. Brazier, who had shown an enormous athletic ability in her roaming position, received the ball. Charging onto the ball, she burned Emilee Cherry and then had to sprint with all of her might, to evade du Toit’s chase.

With that try, Kelly Brazier will; like Tony Woodcock in the 2011 World Cup final, never have to buy a drink at any Bay of Plenty rugby club she enters.

Well played, and full credit to head coach Allan Bunting and his management group for keeping the team focused after the adversity of illness and delays in reaching the games venue.

Note – the Men’s team also won Gold at the Commonwealth Games final.

 

“Main photo credit”
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